Retaliating against the United States for allowing Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui to visit last week, China on Friday recalled its ambassador from Washington, sinking U.S.-China relations to the lowest level in several years.
The recall of Ambassador Li Daoyu “to report on his work in view of the current state of Sino-U.S. relations” was announced here in a terse statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said, “We very much regret that the Chinese government has chosen to recall Ambassador Li. We continue to seek a constructive relationship with a strong, stable and open China. We hope that the Chinese government will reconsider this action and return Ambassador Li to his post very soon.”
Burns said United States considered it significant that China did not say it was downgrading its relations with the United States or that Li had been recalled permanently.
However, other U.S. officials were concerned Friday that China might take a further step and refuse to accept the Clinton administration’s nominee to become the new ambassador to Beijing.